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Make saving a cinch with online coupons

Molly Cerreta Smith has enjoyed a career in the publishing industry for more than 10 years. As an editor of several regional magazines, she has had the opportunity throughout her career to meet many local celebrities, businesspeople, ent...

Smart saving with online coupons

Saving money is more important than ever. But you've got more important things to do than spend your Sunday afternoon flipping and snipping through the newspapers' coupon inserts. So what's a savvy shopper to do? Online coupon sites are popping up all over the Internet. Here, we show you how to make saving a cinch with online coupons and avoid wasting your time on sites that don’t deliver.

Woman clipping coupons online

Do a quick Google search for online coupon sites, and you'll be bombarded with options. There are differences among them, so do your homework before you select a site.

Nix membership fees

What's the point of spending time looking up coupons if you have to pay a hefty membership fee to join an online coupon site? Plenty of online coupons sites are free of charge, so there's really no need to frequent one that isn't. Many free sites offer the opportunity to sign up for discount updates sent straight to your email, as well as access to additional opportunities, such as specific weekly savings at stores in your area. Couponmom.com offers a full coupon database to members, which includes online coupons. Tip: If you don't want your regular inbox stuffed with coupons, create a separate email account specifically for savings.

Smart shopping

Peruse the coupon sites and your store's mailer before you make your grocery list, as they could inspire your menu for the week. Try to create your grocery list based upon the coupons available and sale items. If you're looking for something specific, check a few online coupon sites--and even the brand's own site --before giving in to paying full price.

Beyond the basket

Online coupon sites provide opportunities to trim costs on everyday things from restaurants to yoga classes in addition to your grocery basket. Some sites also provide savings opportunities at drug stores and discount stores like Target. If you are one of those try-it-before-you-buy-it types, some online coupon sites offer free samples of products like diapers, OTC drugs and dog food.

Check the expiration date

Just because it's an online coupon doesn't mean it will last forever. Some coupons don't have an expiration date, but some do, so check before you check out!

Use coupons in collaboration

Once you've gathered all of your online coupons, ramp up your savings by paying close attention to your store's in-house coupons, automatic rebates and sales.

Online coupon sites unite!

The great thing about many of the online coupon sites is that they are in cahoots with one another--so one coupon site could lead you to another that can offer additional savings opportunities.

There's an app for that

Coupons can even come by way of your smart phone. iPhone's Coupon Sherpa is a free app that sends you coupons and allows you to create a list of store faves; the coupons can be scanned by optical scanners as well. BlackBerry's MobiQpons sends coupons to your phone from all kinds of places within a 10-mile radius of your home.

Quit clipping

Forget clipping coupons or even printing them out from your computer; instead, check out sites that allow you to load electronic coupons to your grocery store loyalty card. The discounts will be deducted automatically from your total at the register when you check out, and unused coupons that you load are good until they expire--talk about making saving a snap!

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